Don’t Expect to Bump Oprah From A Magazine Cover

By: Roman Pericon

“I want a pony, a tree house and the fastest bike in the world."

“I want the G.I. Joe with the parachute and camouflage Jeep."

Those wants from when we were children haven’t changed much now that we have traded in our play clothes for suits and ties. When I sit down with clients, I always ask them what they want out of their publicity campaign so I can create a realistic list of expectations.

But I usually hear:

“Front page of the Wall Street Journal."

“I want to sit next to Katie and Matt."

“Do you think I could be on Oprah next week?"

Before I sign a new client, I make sure I explain editorial calendars and lead times so they won’t ask me “Why haven’t I gotten placements with you yet? It’s been six days already." I also explain the concept of “newsworthy" to them.

But it seems that more often than not, all of that explaining goes out the door.

Here’s The Naked Truth.

Sometimes reporters like big names. Sometimes they like unknowns. That lifestyle editor at InStyle may love the handmade candles that you created but if a major crisis happens in the news (e.g. celebrity breakup, A-list star caught with a call girl, paparazzi caught impromptu wedding) then you can bet your wick and scented oils the focus of their article won’t be on your candles.

Same goes for almost every magazine you want to target unless you are Oprah, Bill Gates or the president – of the U.S. not Trixie’s Organic Dog Snacks. So don’t blame your publicist if your story is axed or postponed. They will try another publication.

There’s a great big world out there. Newsweek reaches over 3 million homes each week. They receive enough trash worthy press releases and media kits to fill a broom closet. Sometimes what you think is news… isn’t. And you just have to trust your publicist to alert the media when something of interest is happening with your company. Or you run the risk of an editor never taking your releases seriously when you do.

Understand your target market. I know you think it would be the coolest thing since Nobu Next Door to be on the cover of Cosmo but you sell a high-end baby stroller. Cosmo readers don’t have an interest in that. Trust me. They won’t and the editors don’t have time to wade through releases of no interest to their readers. Publicists know the publications’ target audience and with the help of editorial calendars, they can figure out if you will fit in a certain issue they are preparing. So don’t get upset when your publicist tells you they got you into a different publication because the one you wanted said “NO" to your story over 10 times. When they just aren’t interested, publicists move on.

Sometimes the more is not the merrier. Just because we have an editor contact database of thousands doesn’t mean each of them should receive your press release or an invitation to your launch party. It might sound great to you to say “Our company press release just went out to over 10,000 editors" but if they aren’t targeted to the right editors they will only end up in the recycling bin. I’m positive Janice Huff at Channel 4 doesn’t care about your gelato shop. She only covers the weather.

When it’s time for your company to retain a public relations firm, remember to have realistic expectations. Your publicists know what publications are good targets and they know that providing you with the results you want is going to make you happy. And all publicists want to make their clients happy.

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